Friday night and we’re in the legendary Ronnie Scott’s. It’s one of the most iconic live music venues in the world.

We’re there to listen to jazz but my notebook is never far away.

After a great night out I woke on Saturday morning and wrote 3 short blogs which I’d like to share with you today, tomorrow and Friday.

Lesson One

I’m almost 50 and happy to report that I have quite an eclectic taste in music.  I appreciate musicianship more than ever.  Imagine the dudes:

The drummer who can play 4 parts with 4 limbs and make it look effortless.

The keyboard player who gracefully takes up the melody, changes key and adds a riff.

Amazing talent.

But there’s a problem with talent.  When you’re in a band yours can bubble to the surface.  And that’s what happened on Friday.

Of course this is only my opinion, and if you were there you may disagree.  But for the first 30 minutes of the main show there were five musicians, extremely talented brilliant musicians…  but it sounded to me like they were playing 3 different songs.

All at the same time.

In four different keys.

And with three different tempos.

The sagacious jazz fan in front of me, with his long grey pony tail wearing a waistcoat that Joseph’s brothers would have beaten him up for (again), nodded along – lost in the complex sounds.

For me, and to quote my dad watching Top of The Pops circa 1982, it was ‘just noise’.


I hear business leaders discussing talent; ‘We need a top ‘x’, and a brilliant ‘y’. Then when they find the talented individuals, they don’t fit into their existing team.

The ‘new talent’ is playing sharps while the old team still plays flats.

The 2nd half of the Ronnie Scott’s gig was much better. Brilliant even.  The band (to my immature jazz ear) started playing the same piece.  And here’s the best bit. The audience (and for audience read customers) joined in.

The whole room was clapping, singing and bopping.

Talent is great.  But only when it’s part of a team.

Tomorrow I’m going to tell you how one person loses Ronnie Scott’s a fortune every night.

Be Brilliant!



  1. March 15th 2017 by Sarah

    Looking forward to next instalment

    1. March 15th 2017 by Michael Heppell

      Me too. Better get it written!

  2. March 15th 2017 by Damian

    As always – insightful observation from everyday life. I guess it also goes to show that there are multiple definitions of ‘talent’ too. Not all our customers or colleagues like what we like. Always worth asking in my experience.

    The RS christmas shows are good fun. Each one complete with its own kazoo competition. Real audience participation…

    Have a cracking evening,


    1. March 15th 2017 by Michael Heppell

      Hi Damien. How much do you know about those kazoo competitions? 😉

  3. March 16th 2017 by Ali Bradbury

    Hi Michael. For me, the question is did the rest of the team ‘up their game’ to match the new talent, or did the new talent adapt to suit the rest of the team?

    1. March 18th 2017 by Michael Heppell

      That is an excellent question. I think they just decided they were better together. Or my 2nd G&T kicked in 🙂

  4. March 16th 2017 by Jack Krelle

    Hi Michael,

    Your most recent note on your visit to Ronnie Scott’s prompted three thoughts …

    “You know all the words and you sung all the notes but you never quite learned the song” (Incredible String Band, 1967).
    The problem with Jazz is, just like Art Students everywhere, the artists know they have something to say and if you cannot hear it it proves you are stupid – not that they are incoherent rubbish, (a view usually taken as further proof of their greatness).
    The same is true of many Management Theorists – convincing complexity is easier to deliver than beguiling simplicity
    Many Managers are like most Artists (esp Jazz musicians) they keep playing the same themes and variations again and again pretending to be new whilst convinced that their audience is getting their brilliant wisdom and fame and fortune, (or at least the corner office) are beckoning
    Whilst the audience are getting on with life, their beers and feeding their Passive/Aggressive spirit
    Thirdly … one of the very best musical performances ever (it is jazz) is Keith Jarrett – The Klon Concert. If you don’t already have it buy it and take an hour of calm to enjoy it. Whilst pottering also buy “Compared to What” Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione, it too is Jazz, but current, masterful, musical and moving.

    Be Dynamic,

    1. March 18th 2017 by Michael Heppell

      Thank you for your insight Jack. Brilliantly observered and right on the button.

  5. March 18th 2017 by johanna mcgrath

    you made me laugh and its to do with your comment about your dad saying it was just noise top of the pops 82 well my dad used to say the exact same thing I remember it well, but I really loved music of the 80s still do, but if you go to a concert you want to be wowed full stop

    1. March 18th 2017 by Michael Heppell

      Just noise!

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